Saturday, August 8, 2009


Times have certainly changed, at least from my perspective.

This digital snapshot, taken at the Wheelock Place, has somehow reminded me of some aspect of Singapore history.

Just imagine that I was posed with this same question during the sixties, with the subversive underground communist insurgency in Singapore was reigning at its peak among tertiary students.

During the mid-sixties, I was then studying at the Singapore Polytechnic. I recall incidents at the premises, which were raided by officers from the Internal Security Department. Some subversive elements were caught using the office duplicating machines to print covert materials.


The Great Singapore Sale is over. Was it a runaway success, as depicted metaphorically in this digital snapshot taken at Ngee Ann City?

Personally, I don't think so, because the shopping crowds were not there like yesteryears. I know because I was there - at most of the major shopping places - to do my window shopping with my wife.


Of course, bliss is free! It's personal. It's inside you.


"To solve a problem or to reach a goal, you don't need to know all the answers in advance. But you must have a clear idea of the problem or the goal you want to reach."

~ W. Clement Stone, businessman & a contemporary of Napolean Hill, author of the classic 'Law of Success';


I have stumbled upon the following wonderful story with no attribution to any author floating on the net.

I thought it serves as a good lesson on appreciating the power of resilience from Mother Nature:

The Fern & the Bamboo

One day I decided to quit... I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality... I wanted to quit my life.

I went to the woods to have one last talk with God.

"God", I said. "Can you give me one good reason not to quit?"

His answer surprised me.

"Look around", He said. "Do you see the fern and the bamboo?"

I replied.

"When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo.

In the second year the fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo.

In year three there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. The same in year four.

Then in the fifth year, a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to the fern, it was seemingly small and insignificant.

But just six months later, the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall.

It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle."

"Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots? I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you."

"Don't compare yourself to others." He said. "The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern. Yet they both make the forest beautiful."

"Your time will come", God said to me. "You will rise high"

"How high should I rise?"
I asked.

"How high will the bamboo rise?" He asked in return.

"As high as it can?" I questioned

"Yes." He said, "Give me glory by rising as high as you can."

I left the forest, realizing that God will never give up on me. And He will never give up on you.

Never regret a day in your life.

Good days give you happiness;
Bad days give you experiences;
Both are essential to life.

~ Author Unknown


According to Twyla Tharp, an award-winning choreographer, writing in her wonderful book,'The Creative Habit: Learn It & Use It for Life' - which is a multifaceted resource guide, complete with 32 exercises (written, visual, &physical), questionnaires, & interesting anecdotes - one of the great ways to boost personal creativeness is to fight the system.

Here's is what she wrote in the book, under exercise #16: Pick a Fight:

"Creativity is an act of defiance. You're challenging the status quo. You're questioning accepted truths & principles. You're asking three universal questions that mock conventional wisdom:

- what do I have to obey the rules?

- why can't I be different?

- why can't I do it my way?

These are impulses that guide all creative people whether they admit it or not. Every act of creation is also an act of destruction or abandonment.

Something has to be cast aside to make way for the new.

So, pick a fight - with the system, the rules, your rituals, even your everyday routines."

Read the book to get the full flavour of what to do, as advised by the brilliant author, in order to fight the system.

Here's a good start, from the author, which I have emulated:

"For one day, be completely contrary, to the point of orneriness & belligerence, with anything & everything you do. Turn everything upside down.

When you get up in the morning, pick a fight with your wake-up routine. If you like to exercise (as I do), do your workout in reverse, or twice as fast (whew!), or twice as slow (ugh!). The change will challenge your muscles. The discomfort will stimulate your brain."

It sure does!


What's it going to take to get me excited every morning?

Friday, August 7, 2009


"It's a matter of ABC:

When we encounter ADVERSITY, we react by thinking about it. Our thoughts rapidly congeal into BELIEFS. These beliefs may become so habitual we don't even realize we have them unless we stop to focus on them. And they don't just sit there idly; they have CONSEQUENCES.

The beliefs are the direct cause of what we feel and what we do next. They can spell the difference between dejection and giving up, on the one hand, and well-being and constructive action on the other.

The first step is to see the connection between adversity, belief, and consequence.

The second step is to see how the ABCs operate every day in your own life."

~ Martin E. P. Seligman, a pioneer in the field of positive psychology & author of several books, including 'Authentic Happiness';


What precisely is holding me back from the results I want & the success I desire?

What exactly must I do to eliminate the bottlenecks & obstacles?


"... there is an underlying, hidden level of culture that is highly patterned—a set of unspoken, implicit rules of behavior and thought that controls everything we do. This hidden cultural grammar defines the way in which people view the world…

Most of us are either totally unaware or else only peripherally aware of this...

This was brought home to me recently while discussing Japanese [cultural differences] with a friend, a brilliant man with an usually fine mind. I realized that not only was I not getting through to him, but nothing of a substantive nature that I had said made sense to him…

For him to have understood me would have meant reorganizing his thinking… giving up his intellectual ballast, and few people are willing to risk such a radical move. "

~ Edward Hall, 'The Dance of Life: The Other Dimension of Time' (1983);

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Here's a link to a major discovery - a Japanese professor & his team of researchers at the University of Tokyo unveil their newest invention, a tactile hologram - as reported in a recent Fast Company news report (originated from Technology Review Published by MIT) .

I am often fascinated by holograms, primarily because the brain emulates certain mathematical (known as Fourier's) principles of the hologram. The credit goes to the pioneering work of Stanford University's Prof Karl Pribram, who postulated the Holographic Brain Theory.

As far as I understand, the hologram & our brain share the following similarities:

- both form & create 3D images;

- images are created through wave forms;

- images are created outside the boundaries of a 2D physical solid;

- memory storage is distributed throughtout;

- a fragment can recreate the whole, original image;

- images formed from fragments are fuzzy;

- both have tremendous memory storage capacity;

One of the most salient aspects of the Holographic Brain Theory is that the brain cannot tell the difference between a real experience & an imagined experience.

Let's do a simple experiment. Just imagine you are squeezing a slice of lemon or lime into your mouth. What happens?

What about wet dreams?

These aspects essentially explain why mental rehearsal really works for competitive sports training, including golf.


[continued from the Last Post.]

1. Do I wake up most Mondays feeling energized to go to work? Yes/No

2. Do I have deep energy - feel a personal calling - for my work? Yes/No

3. Am I clear about how I measure my success as a person? Yes/No

4. Do I use my gifts to add real value to people's lives? Yes/No

5. Do I work with people who honor the values I value? Yes/No

6. Can I speak my truth in my work? Yes/No

7. Am I experiencing true joy in my work? Yes/No

8. Am I making a living doing what I most love to do? Yes/No

9. Can I speak my purpose in one clear sentence? Yes/No

10. Do I go to sleep most nights feeling "this was a well-lived" day? Yes/No


The foregoing questions come - with slight adaptation - from the 'Working on Purpose Questionnaire' in the classic, 'The Power of Purpose: Creating Meaning in Your Life & Work', by life coach Richard Leider. I had already reviewed this book in an earlier post.

The instructions given by the author were very clear:

"Check either 'Yes' or 'No' according to how you feel about each question today.

The total number of 'Yes' responses on the questionnaire provides a general sense of your purpose of purpose at work.

If you have many 'Yes' responses, you are obviously intent on making a difference thrugh your work. You probably have a sense of purpose or direction, but you might consider further clarifying your gifts, passions & values."

Interestingly, & I do concur with the author, as I had learned earlier from the author during the early nineties, pondering over the foregoing provoking questions & completing the 'Working on Purpose Questionnaire' as well as the 'Aliveness Questionnaire' as illustrated in an earlier post, certainly accord one the exhilarating entertainment of "feeling the rapture of being alive".


"There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known. There’s nothing you can see that isn’t shown. There’s no where you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be. It’s easy. All you need is
love—love is all you need."

~ John Lennon, (1940-1980), English rock musician, singer, songwriter, & peace activist who gained worldwide fame as one of the founding members of 'The Beatles';

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


[The following extended article has been written by thinkologist Dudley Lynch.

In it, he has shared his personal insights behind the working mechanism of the 'Asset Report: The Book of You', which he has systematically created as an effective & unique personal assessment tool, unlike many conventional instrumentalities.

When I had my personal evaluation done by Dudley Lynch several years ago, & upon receiving the 100-page report from him, it was the first time in my entire life that I had been described in such rich astonishing details - as a powerful individual, intended on becoming all I could be.

In a nut shell, the report became my personal leadership guide for pushing further the envelope of my personal future, & also for providing me with a repertoire of skills & strategies to confront reality & evaluate options in a fast-changing world.

As a result of knowing myself better, I became more versatile in scanning the horizon with soft focus, reading the signals smartly, adapting quickly to unxpected changes, & integrate information skillfully for timely personal decision making to grasp viable opportunities out there than ever before.

Best of all, the self-understanding of what had made me tick also helped to bring my natural advantages & personal strengths to the surface of becoming different, in the marketable sense.

I dare to say in no uncertain terms, what I am today is essentially the physical manifestation of living the real, total story about me, & about what I am really capable of, as embodied in my 'Asset Report'. By the way, I am a Task Commander.]

As an entrepreneur, you are going to be reminded time and again that many people aren’t very skilled at recognizing ability. Specifically, your abilities. What can you do? Be clear at all times about exactly who you are. Then, be ready to spell it out ability by ability for anyone who needs to know.

The unrecognized-abilities problem plagued three-time Super Bowl winning coach Bill Walsh right up to the spectacular finish of his professional coaching career.

“I was forty-five before I even had an interview for a head coaching job in the NFL,” says the man who would eventually transform pro football as an offensive wizard. And that interview didn’t get him a job. Nobody wanted anything to do with the Walsh ideas that were later destined to get him labeled as a football genius.

The Bengals interviewed him, and rejected him. Then the Jets.

And the Rams.

Until the 49ers put an end to his apprenticeship of 21 years as pro assistant, college and semi-pro coach with a head NFL job, Walsh was saddled again and again with this professional put-down: “Good technician. Not a head coach.”

The home-based entrepreneur is destined to notice this kind of unfair and inaccurate dismissal time and again. Competent enough. But works out of the house. Or, Talented pair. But it’s multi-level marketing. Or, Passionate person. But doesn’t have the track record. And getting decision-makers and action-takers to recognize your special talents and skills is only the beginning.

Much of your success as a Power of One will depend on how adroit you are at recognizing ability when you see it—or when you don’t! Then finding exactly how to fit your own or someone else’s special gifts—or less-than-obvious weaknesses—into your winning formula.

Be forewarned: turning yourself into an abilities expert doesn’t even show up on many entrepreneurial coaches’ list of essential skills. And I can understand most of the reasons.

In admitting that there are some things you may not do well, you risk being seen as a negative, anti-can-do-type thinker. But that’s simply not so. You are being a realistic thinker—and that’s something very different, and smart.

Some persons take umbrage, too, at believing you can learn to size up in a heartbeat how another person thinks. New Age audiences—and some positive-thinking groups, too—condemn the idea because they say it pigeon-holes people.

My reply: Nothing is more manipulative and calloused than refusing to recognize another person’s clues to what will help them feel more at ease, be better understood, be more productive.

Not paying close, organized attention to how people think—yourself and others—is an invitation to trouble. Here are risks:

- You don’t know how to tell people what you are—or can be—really good at.

- You don’t know if this (whatever it happens to be) is the right thing for you?

- You don’t know what parts of you are going ignored—to your detriment.

- You don’t know what you need to make you truly happy and productive.

- You don’t know how to optimize yourself.

- You don’t know how you will react under stress.

- You don’t know what is liable to blindside you.

- You don’t know who to partner with.

- You don’t know the full range of your negotiating strengths and weaknesses.

- You don’t know what there is about yourself that turns other people on—and turns them off.

- You don’t know what psychological games you are most vulnerable to.

- You don’t know the best methods and routes to changing yourself—for developing new thinking skills and strengths.

- You can’t tell if your purpose in life is in sync with how you think most of time.

The idea that each person has a special set of personal thinking skills that equips him or her to do certain things well and not others is much rarer in business than you might think. A more likely assumption is that “one size fits all.”

When temp agencies test for typing skills, the answer they want is “60 words per minute” (or, better yet, 85!). But how long is that person willing to sit still and type? If you have the insights you need into how that person thinks, you can probably make a judgment that’s so accurate and on-target that it’s scary.

Why aren’t these important thinking skills sets more obvious to us? My answer: they get covered up by all kinds of things. The behaviors your parents rewarded and encouraged in you, and those they didn’t. Things you tried once—and failed at. Things you’ve trained yourself to do, without really thinking about whether it is you. Things you’ve never tried because no one ask you to or thought you could.

The available experts don’t always help that much, either. There are so many kinds of motivational and growth-technique consultants trying to tell you how to think and what to think about. So many models and viewpoints, often in conflict.

So much so that, by the time we grow to be adults, it can be very confusing to ourselves and others to understand exactly how we do think.

I’ve spent nearly 30 years studying the thinking skills sets that people in business use. Before turning to my findings, let me say that I appreciate that we are each, in our own way, uniquely original creatures. It is a quality that I celebrate and respect.

But I also know that underneath each of our distinctive personas we share common thinking systems. I call them “home bases.”

For example, depending on their thinking home base, different people react differently to information. Do you gravitate toward what you don’t know? Or prefer to focus on what you do know? Do you go immediately with what fits? Or postpone knowing so you can come up with more complex answers.

Are you more comfortable preserving the past? Or do you lean more toward the future? Do you build community? Or do you ignore community to get better results from the parts?

My home base model looks for clues to how you personally handle these kinds of issues.

The bases—eight in all—aren’t everything about a person but they give a focus and a tone to nearly everything a person thinks, feels and does.

Your home base describes what you can be expected to do with who you are. The result: when you know your home base, you get a mirror unlike perhaps any into which you’ve peered before. Your home base can become a wonderfully instructive guide to your future growth as well as help you deal with many of the current practicalities facing you in your business.

If you recognize the home base someone else is operating from, you know much of what you need to know about whether partnering with them is a good idea, or is a potential disaster.

Whether you can do business on a handshake or need a detailed contract and a lawyer. Whether your prospect needs more space, more information, a push or a hug to close a deal, or whether there is likely a deal there at all. Whether someone is a good candidate for home entrepreneurship or probably should get a job. Whether they are likely to let things fall through, or can be depended on to follow through.

“Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; the proper study of mankind is man [and woman],” opined Alexander Pope.

That’s generally the idea behind the home bases model: knowing yourself, knowing others and making better business and life decisions using your potent new knowledge.

Look closely and I think you’ll discover that one of these fundamental thinking positions or bases serves as the bedrock for how nearly everyone you’ll ever encounter—yourself included—goes about their business:

The Mobilizer

You can feel it the moment you arrive in the presence of these individuals. The energy. The can-do spirit and attitude. The commitment, the determination. My real estate salesperson has it. Buying a home with his help was both a revelation and an education. For him, nearly everything is negotiable, or so it seems.

When he meets an obstacle, he instantly repositions his thinking to view it as an opportunity or an alternative—or several. Nothing is written in concrete.

When you need quick results, it is good to have a Mobilizer’s abilities on hand.

The Mobilizer needs to make sure that others appreciate that he or she:

- Is swift to size up possibilities.

- Can remove bottlenecks quickly.

- Enjoys deal-making.

- Can focus intensely on goals.

- Uses hands-on approaches.

- Can often get results when others can’t.

Of course, most Mobilizers occasionally crash, too. (What millionaire entrepreneur can’t tell you a story or two about first having gone bankrupt?)

If you are a Mobilizer or must deal with them frequently, a good thing to work on is recognizing when to back off, let go, chill out. Otherwise, there may be blood in the water—yours.

The Trailblazer

Have you ever sat in a meeting that was going nowhere? Serious issues remained but the ideas had turned stale.

The suddenly, out of the blue, someone threw out a possibility that was pure electricity. It was so different, so novel and unexpected and yet so, so . . . right, appropriate, useful.

Welcome to the abilities of the Trailblazer. These are idea people, through and through.

If you are a Trailblazer, you need to understand—and to make sure that others are aware—that you have these abilities:

- Likes to create new possibilities.

- Thinks a lot about the future.

- Seeks variety and novelty.

- Targets “being all he or she can be.”

- Is intrigued by life’s mysteries.

- Often takes on unpopular causes.

If dealing with others who are Trailblazers, it’s wise to be aware that can’t always count on these individuals when it comes to the details—seeing the new product through to roll-out, making sales, paying the bills, collecting debts. So probably you shouldn’t.

If this is your home base, it may be a good idea to partner with a Mr. or Ms. Right whose thinking abilities are more structured. You be the idea person; depend on your partner to keep things on schedule.

One additional tip: Credit card companies love variety-seeking Trailblazers, so be careful with the plastic!

The Task Commander

When I tested the professional staff at the largest personnel recruiter in my city, virtually everyone used the abilities of the Task Commander.

“I want to hire more people like them,” the firm’s owner told me. “I have this system, and if my people will use this system, they’ll make us all rich. The system works.”

Task Commanders usually do have a system in mind—have it down pat, in fact. And use it effectively to finish the project on time, on budget, on quota. To deliver consistently.

If you operate from this home base, you need to make sure that others are aware of these abilities:

- Is a take-charge, go-to player.

- Gets consistent results—on deadline.

- Is good at follow through.

- Will make tough decisions.

- Targets what works.

- Makes resources go a long way.

As you probably suspect, the Task Commander’s vulnerability is trying to do to much. Or continuing to use “the system” when the need and time have arrived to do things differently.

At such times, it’s a useful idea to perhaps show a little more humility. Listen this time, instead of barking orders, as usual. Gear down, instead of gearing up.

The Ideals Crafter

It was years before I fully understood why my friend had walked away from a thriving career as a scientist for Texas Instruments. First, I had to develop a real appreciation for the depth and passion of his idealism—that is, I had to truly understand his thinking home base.

Today, my friend is a licensed therapist. Also, he spends a lot of time—for free—counseling ex-prison inmates, building houses for the poor, volunteering at his church. But using the abilities of the Ideals Crafter doesn’t mean you prefer poverty over prosperity. My friend is also an astute investor (he started with all that TI stock).

If you are an Ideals Crafter, it is important that you make sure others notice and value these abilities in you:

- Excellent at relationships.

- Good change agent.

- Service-minded.

- “People” problem-solver.

- Can be very intuitive.

- Is principle-based.

A surprising number of individuals who go into home businesses excel at the Ideals Crafter’s abilities. And almost immediately, they get into trouble. In the marketplace, reality isn’t always gentle with idealism.

Often, my advice is this: create a hybrid life and work style. Draw on abilities elsewhere in the home-base thinking model. Then use the proceeds, contacts and influence you gain to further your ideals. It’s a powerful combo for the person who “wills” it to happen.

The Evaluator

When observing the abilities of an Evaluator, I sometimes think of the little boy and his Grandpa.

“Gramps, why don’t you get a hearing aid?” the child asks.

“Don’t need one, son,” Gramps replies. “I hear more now than I can understand.”

I felt that way recently while in a room filled with attorneys. At first I was intrigued by these lawyers’ extraordinary appetites for information and detail. Question after endless question. Answer upon answer. But eventually, I wanted to shout, “Enough, already.” My own mind boggled from information overload.

Of course, that’s the way we want our lawyers to think. And our surgeons. Our airplane pilots. And maybe closer to home, our bookkeeper and our computer consultant!

If you are an Evaluator, you can benefit from helping others to see these abilities in you:

- Can meet exacting standards.

- Good at organizing information.

- Holds out for quality.

- Very logical, will follow through.

- Is a sponge for data, for details.

- Responsive to schedules, deadlines.

If the user of the Evaluator home base has an Achilles’ heel, it is the danger of becoming too pessimistic. After all, it nearly always requires less effort to be negative than positive.

If I sense that an Evaluator client is taking the easy way out, I sometimes share this Chinese proverb: “Person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt person doing it.”

The Early Resolver

Remember the TV commercial where people fall silent and the announcer intones, “When E.F. Hutton speaks, everyone listens”?

There is a thinking home base like that, too. I call it the Early Resolver because that’s what its users do: think up quality solutions or approaches to difficult problems quicker than the rest of us.

One Colorado company I know about has taken the time to identify employees who are Early Resolvers and put them on special problem-solving teams by themselves.

No matter how difficult the problem, they get only one day to come up with a workable solution. The leader of this team told me that the company’s return on investment in Early Resolver teams runs from 10-to-1 to 50-to-1. “One team saved us $29 million in a single day’s work,” he reports.

If you realize that you are an Early Resolver, it is wise to help others appreciate these abilities:

- Can quickly apply new knowledge.

- Listens closely to others.

- Has a knack for spotting patterns, trends.

- At home with complex issues, situations.

- Likes to experiment with new approaches.

- Good with people; also with technology.

If you are lucky enough to have an Early Resolver around, it’s a good idea to listen up when they speak up. If this is your own home base, you’ll want to guard against the “assumptions”:

Assuming that if you can do something, anyone else can do it. Assuming that if someone says they will do something, that they will do it. Assuming that when you speak out and get put down, there is no value to your idea.

The Gatekeeper

Former IBM chairman John Akers knew about Vince Lombardi’ s quote: “Winning is not the most important thing; it’s the only thing.”

But he said he much preferred another Lombardi quote. “He expected his players, he once said, to have three kinds of loyalty: to God, to their families, and to the Green Bay Packers, in that order.”

Loyalty may be out of fashion these days, but it’s not out of order. Show me any company, organization, group or family that is proud of itself, is healthy and cohesive, and I’ll point out some people in their midst who are operating from a thinking home base I call the Gatekeeper.

If this is home for you, here are abilities about yourself you need to publicize:

- Creates good reasons to be loyal.

- Can turn people on to their traditions and history.

- Good at explaining the right thing to do.

- Willing to defend important values.

- Genuinely cares about people.

- Can be a patient mentor and teacher.

My instincts tell me that the ranks of the home entrepreneur are bulging with Gatekeepers.

People fiercely loyal to what they believe—and to others they believe in. One word of caution only: vigilance. Not everyone who asks for your loyalty deserves it. Not everyone who promises you theirs will give it. And you can’t be loyal to everyone and everything to same degree. To paraphrase Henry Clay: “Loyalty is no substitute for judgment.”

The Instinct Player

My wife, Sherry, is an Instinct Player (when you factor in my own Early Resolver home base, it makes for a lively mix at our house!).

Recently, we put our house up for sale—a very unusual house, a Shar Pei in a neighborhood of Spaniels. And we quickly turned up a hot prospect … but one, it turned out, who couldn’t make up his mind. Days passed. More visits, more inspections, more questions, more indecisiveness.

Finally, I said, “Enough is enough. I don’t want to mess with him anymore.”

“We’ve got this house sold,” she reassured me. “This man is frightened. Scared out of his wits by paying this kind of money for this kind of property. I want to talk to him.” She did—for almost an hour. And he signed a contract the next day.

I’ve long since quit asking her questions about how she knows certain things—like what’s going on inside a person. If I do ask, she usually answers, “I don’t know, I just know.”

If you share the Instinct Player’s home base with her, you have these abilities to showcase:

- Can cut straight to the core issue.

- Able to point out fundamental things others are missing.

- A contagious, energizing playfulness.

- Likes immediate, total involvement.

- Enjoys seeing what can be made of a mess.

- Will roll up his or her sleeves and go to work.

“Above all, try something,” said FDR.

That’s the core ability of the Instinct Player: Having an innate, sometimes uncanny sense of what might work and then trying it.

The greatest danger of this way of thinking is that sometimes you can run the skein out too far. It is good to step back occasionally and tote up the costs. Take stock of where you are. And where, as an Instinct Player, you’d really like to go.

The descriptions I’ve provided here are merely the tip of the iceberg of what we’ve learned over the years about the thinking home bases.

In the next few days, put this information to the test. See if one of the bases seems to mirror you more than all the others.

When there is only you—a home-based entrepreneur—to make it all work, there is much value in being able to size up people, opportunities, circumstances, options, and odds in a hurry by using yourself as the primary yardstick. You owe it to yourself to be able to say, if it is true, “I know who I am and what I do best, and this isn’t a good fit for me.”

Or, to a prospective partner if necessary, “Please don’t take it personally, but I would be oil to your water; we’re not meant to be mixed.” Or, when you’ve eyeballed an opportunity and found it doesn’t feel right, to say to yourself, “I won’t stay the distance on this, so why waste time and energy now?”

Of course, there will be all those times when the answer is Yes! This is Me! It may be because you can feel your heart and soul and mind endorsing an opportunity to the fullest. But it may also be because you have taken time to size yourself up. You have become closely acquainted with your thinking skills, preferences and expectations. You know better than ever how to help people appreciate that you have abilities that can take you from twinkle star to superstar.

To me, this is the real value of knowing where your thinking calls home.

[More information about Dudley Lynch, his established consulting practice (dedicated to brain training & life change), all his books & resources (on accelerated self-growth), & more specifically, the 'Asset Report', can be found at his corporate website.

If you have been a follower of my weblog, you will know instantly that I am truly a raving fan of his great work.]


Here's a link to a great local marketing story.

It's about an American restaurateur Botak Jones & his food joint in Singapore with the crazy tagline:

"Damn Good Food at a Damn Good Price".

It came from the Marketing Institute of Singapore via a recent issue of their emarketer newsletter.


1. Do I feel a sense of balance in my life? Yes/No

2. Do I regularly enjoy hearty belly laughs? Yes/No

3. Do I live my dreams? Yes/No

4. Do I have at least two nutritious people in my life? Yes/No

5. Do I take time for solitude? Yes/No

6. Do I feel the energy of optimum health? Yes/No

7. Do I have a spiritual practice in my life? Yes/No

8. Do I feel that my life matters? Yes/No

9. Does my recreation time re-create me? Yes/No

10. Do I have the courage to say "NO"? Yes/No


The foregoing questions come - with slight adaptation - from the 'Aliveness Questionnaire' in the classic, 'The Power of Purpose: Creating Meaning in Your Life & Work', by life coach Richard Leider. I had already reviewed this book in an earlier post.

The instructions given by the author were very clear:

"Think of answering the AQ as you would a periodic physical examination.

Check either Yes or No according to how you feel about each question today.

The total number of Yes responses on the AQ provides a general sense of your aliveness.

A higher number indicates that you have deep life energy. You might actually feel "the rapture of being alive".

As you reflect on your aliveness, focus on the questions you need to pay more attention to,.

No one has mastered all of these factors.

Aliveness does not mean perfection. It does means a willingness to live life openly & fully, acknowledging your humanness.

The AQ is an opportunity to reflect."

Interestingly, & I do concur with the author, as I had learned earlier from the author during the early nineties, pondering over the foregoing provoking questions & completing the 'Aliveness Questionnaire' certainly accord one the exhilarating entertainment of "feeling the rapture of being alive'.

[To be continued in the Next Post: with 'Working on Purpose' Questionnaire.]


"A closer look shows that the greatest gift that extraordinarily successful people have over the average person is their ability to get themselves to take action."

~ Anthony Robbins;

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


At a 'National Day' dinner speech recently, as reported on ChannelNewsAsia broadcast, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, outlines the ten challenges that lie ahead for the nation, in particular to the younger generation of leaders, after 50 years of remarkable progress.

1. Maintaining high rates of economic growth:

Singapore's economy has grown from $2 billion 50 years ago to $250 billion.

Mr Goh warned: "Just remember, the world is a very competitive place & our economy has matured."

2. Improving living standards which are already high;

More than 90 per cent of Singaporeans own their homes, which are equipped with electricity & modern sanitation facilities.

This is an improvement by leaps & bounds over the housing situation 50 years ago, when thousands of Singaporeans lived in slums & squalor.

3. Providing better transport at affordable prices;

Students now travel in air-conditioned cars, buses or trains, unlike in the past.

In the future, the Government would have to satisfy people's higher expectations of comfort, convenience and congestion-free travel along with providing affordable fares, Mr Goh said.

4. Stamping out diseases of affluence at affordable health-care rates;

People live longer now & more develop diseases linked to an affluent lifestyle, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes & kidney failure, instead of infectious diseases.

Such illnesses are also more expensive to treat, said Mr Goh.

5. Helping to keep workers employed till age 75;

In 50 years, Singaporeans' life expectancy has risen from 60 to 80 years of age, & the retirement age has been raised from 55 to 62.

With advances in health care, life expectancy will probably increase to 90 years in the future and people would have to work till the age of 75 to have enough savings "for a cosy retirement of 15 years", Mr Goh said.

The challenge would be to motivate & train older people to continue working, he said.

6. Getting young people to marry & have children;

Development has led to a plunge in birth rates here.

Fewer women are getting married, and those who do are giving birth to fewer babies.

7. Supporting an ageing population;

This will be a problem as an increasing number of old people will live longer, while fewer young people will be around to work and support them, Mr Goh said.

Now, 9 per cent of the population is aged above 65. By 2030, this will double to 20 per cent.

8. Getting more land;

In the last 50 years, Singapore's land area has expanded by more than 20 per cent through reclamation.

As the population & economy continue to grow, more land would be needed, & its use balanced between the economy, housing and recreation.

9. Preventing a brain drain;

Hundreds of students go overseas to study & more are not returning home.

Singapore needs to find ways to bond them to Singapore, so that most will return home and contribute, Mr Goh said.

I like his analogy of the flying geese - the need for strong wings & deep roots among the younger generation.

10. Keeping a multi-religious society cohesive;

Singaporeans are getting more religious, Mr Goh noted.

They have to guard against forming religious enclaves & mix with those of other faiths to prevent society from becoming divided, he said.

On the whole, his prognosis is valid.

Personally, I have an adverse reaction to challenge #4, as far as my own personal experience with health costs in Singapore is concerned.

During my recent trip to Ho Chi Minh city, I went to an established dental practice, upon the recommendation of my wife, to extract 3 rotten teeth (actually done on two separate days by choice). It costed me about S$20 per extraction. Consultation & several shots of X-ray undertaken were free.

Prior to the trip, I had gone to my neighbourhood dental clinic to check out extraction costs. The clinic wanted to charge me S$80 per extraction. On top of that, I needed to fork out S$35 for consultation. X'ray was extra at S$20 per shot.

Interestingly, my friend, David & his wife also took one evening to visit the same dental practice during their recent visit to Ho Chi Minh City. They both went for a complete teeth cleaning routine.

On top of that, David had 8 teeth which required "refilling" work following consultation. His total dental bill was about S$200, a fraction of what he would pay in Singapore.

More interestingly, several months ago, my wife had a brush with suspected abrasion in the throat area from crab fragments (while eating), which necessitated a brisk operating theatre procedure, plus a two-nights' stay at the Singapore General Hospital.

To my chagrin, the entire hospitalisation bill came up to slightly above S$5,000. Luckily, I had insured her.

So, frankly, I really don't know how far the health costs can be capped in Singapore in the near future, especially for senior citizens, let alone arresting their potential upward spiral.

Nonetheless, I am also very interested in challenge #7, more from the standpoint of learning to keep ourselves in "growing whole" as opposed to "growing old".

This explains why I am always on the lookout for new ideas in aging gracefully, as well as strategies to help others in "retyring" - getting a new set of wheels to keep spinning, so to speak - instead of "retiring".

I reckon, in the long run, the ability to handle well challenge #7 at the personal level gives one the ability as well as the readiness to deal with the issue of long-term employability. That's part of challenge #5.


Here's an interesting self-evaluation:

Are you a Peak Performer?

Just spend some time to check the following items that apply to you:

- I am committed to attaining a written set of goals;

- I am guided by life-enhancing, ecological values;

- I live my life based on contribution instead of survival;

- I encourage tolerance and trust among team members;

- I nurture strong networks of family and friends;

- I interpret every challenge as a learning experience;

- I use creative thinking to generate alternatives;

- I transform myself through disciplined training;

- I have a high degree of tolerance for chaos and ambiguity;

- I change my questions to change my thinking focus;

- I manage my energy rather than managing my time;

- I monitor my stress and recovery waves daily;

- I visualize and mentally rehearse what I want to accomplish;

- I project a strong, confident image;

- I walk the talk: I match my values with my actions;

- I take informed risks to achieve measurable results;

- I challenge popular notions and my own limiting beliefs;

- I lead by example and leave a path for others to follow;

Invariably, as you can see, goal setting always comes first.

[Source: Salum International Resources.]


I have stumbled upon an interesting article on developing meltdown mastery by organisational leadership consultant James Lucas. In it, he throws in '12 Things You Must Do To Exploit Tough Times — And Good Times'.

Here's the link.

James Lucas is the author of 'Fatal Illusions: Shredding a Dozen Unrealities That Can Keep Your Organization From Success' as well as 'Broaden the Vision & Narrow the Focus: Managing in a World of Paradox', among a few others.

I have in fact written about his related great stuff in an earlier post.


"Don't be afraid of new ideas. Be afraid of old ideas. They keep you where you are & stop you from growing & moving forward. Concentrate on where you want to go, not on what you fear."

~ Anthony Robbins;


Is my present behaviour oriented to improving my personal future?

Do my future visions measurably influence my present actions?

Do I acknowledge the need to make changes & sacrifices now for a future vision?

Are my present actions measurably informed by my plans or are they dictated by contingent "random" circumstances of my environment?

How often do I foresee myself & my environment one week into the future? one month? 90 days? one year? ten years?

~ adapted from information on 'Personal Futurist', available at the Club of Amsterdam;

Monday, August 3, 2009


In the book, 'Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World', (which I had already reviewed in an earlier post) by futurist Bob Johansen, there is a wonderful opportunity for readers upon perusal to assess your own readiness for the future.

The assessment is intended to help readers to personalize the ten future leadership skills as embodied in the book & to illustrate how they might apply to your own leadership development.

To paraphrase, "don’t consider the assessment absolute, since nobody can predict the future.

Rather, use it to spark your own thinking about leadership and how you might like to develop yourself as a leader in the future. You have to decide what kind of leader you will want to be, but challenges from the future can bring out more of your own innate leadership gifts."

Readers can go to this link at the publisher's website to try out the self-assessment.

"Once you have finished rating yourself for the ten leadership skills for the future, you can see your results in a colorful graphic representation. You can also view the collective results of all those who have taken the test before you. Leaders make the future, but they won’t make it all at once and they can’t make it alone. This will be a make-it-ourselves future."

By the way, to recap, 'Leaders Make the Future' is truly a masterclass on Strategic Anticipation. So, if you are looking for strategic tools to enhance your anticipatory prowess, this is one good book to read.


1. WHO AM I?: Define yourself as separate from all others ;

2. WHAT MAKES ME SPECIAL?: Unearth what you love;

3. IS THERE A PATTERN TO MY LIFE?: Make the connections that explain past events & foreshadow your future;

4. WHERE AM I GOING?: Use what you’ve learned so far to guide you on your path;

5. WHAT IS MY GIFT?: Follow the signs of joy;

6. WHO CAN I TRUST?: Take stock of who matters – & why;

7. WHAT IS MY MESSAGE?: Declare yourself on the strength of your gift;

8. WILL MY LIFE BE RICH?: Surrender to the pull of your identity;

~ from the book, 'The Identity Code: The 8 Essential Questions for Finding Your Purpose & Place in the World', by Laurence Ackerman, a leading authority on organizational & personal identity;

[More information about the author & his work can be found at his The Identity Code website or Identity is Destiny website. His other book is 'Identity Is Destiny: Leadership & the Roots of Value Creation';]


"I have not yet done enough in my life. I have more to do, more to learn, more to achieve..."

~ US President Barack Obama;


This is my favourite street-corner wanton mee noodles stall in Ho Chi Minh City. It's located just next to a busy traffic junction, in the heartland. Seating capacity is limited to about a dozen persons at any one time.

Whenever I am visiting Ho Chi Minh City, my wife, especially with her keen nose for good & cheap food, will bring me there on a Honda motorbike. A guy, probably related to the stall-holder, will always be there to take care of all the motorbikes for visiting customers.

Just imagine each bowl of wanton mee noodles with boiling soup only costs slightly above one dollar. In my personal case, mine is always upsized, with a doubled portion of mee stock. The option comes with pork slices or beef balls. Freshly cut limes as well as fresh vegetables are always readily available on the house, a luxury only found in Vietnam, as you can see from the photoshots.

By the way, it's not air-conditioned. So, in a way, I reckon the hot climate, coupled with dust & fumes from passing &/or idling motorbikes on the busy road, while waiting for the traffic light to turn green, probably adds to the nice ambience of savouring a good hot meal.

Interestingly, each customer also gets a iced-cold towel to go.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Upon our return from Dalat the previous night, my friend David, his wife & daughter, Jenny & Vivien, spent the next day in Ho Chi Minh City [for them, it was the last day, as they were scheduled to fly off the next morning i.e. 12th June 2009, but for me, I was scheduled to spend an additional day in the city, with my wife staying back for another two weeks;] doing nothing very much on the next day, except for spending a couple of hours at the Ben Thanh Market to do some last minute shopping.

Prior to the brisk shopping spree, we had spent an hour or so, squatting by the roadside, just next to a make-shift coffee stall, directly opposite the 4-storey private apartment of my wife's younger sister, Susan, in the Tan Quy District.

My wife & Jenny had left earlier on a Honda motorbike to buy our special breakfast for the morning: freshly-baked Vietnamese baguette with roasted meat slices & freshly-cut pickles.

Meanwhile, Susan had ordered for us our favourite Vietnamese coffee, decanter style, from a friendly neighbour who ran the coffee stall.

At the Ben Thanh Market, after buying some Vietnamese coffee & cashew nuts to take back to Singapore, we had our simple & quick lunch over there.

Just before returning to Susan's apartment, we had also managed to savour some delicious Vietnamese ice cream in the city centre, more popularly known as 'Saigon' to local residents.

I can easily gulp two of these freshly baked baguettes at any one time. Sometimes, maybe three of them when I am really hungry. Just imagine one gets to pay only about 60 cents for the luxury each time.

[In Singapore, not too long ago, right in the basement of Raffles City shopping mall, an enterprising Singaporean had invested in a snack stall to offer similar baguettes, plus some other Vietnamese takeaway specialties. I had brought my wife there twice to try out the delicacies. Not too bad, except for the pricey tag, S$5.60 for each baguette option. The stall had since closed down.]

That's how the Vietnamese people like their daily coffee perk-me-ups, decanter style. We got hooked too.

The small girl with the pony tail is Pamela, my favourite niece-in-law from Vietnam, who also happens to be Susan's only daughter. To me, she is little Rambo.


How do I ensure that all my learning pursuits eventually become a way of being for me?


"I know it's a lot more fun to stand on the practice tee & rip your driver than it's to chip & pitch, or practise sand shots with sand flying back in your face, but it comes back to the question of how much you're willing to pay for success."

~ Sam Snead, (1912-2002), an American golfer who was considered one of the top five golfers of the 20th century;


Here is a link to a simple audit for you to rate your own brainpower.

It was designed by Dr Eric Bienstock who is Vice-Principal of the School of Thinking, a brainchild of creativity guru from Down Under, Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, in New York.

From what I have understood, it is not a scientific test. It’s just an audit to help you take stock of your thinking. That’s all!

To paraphrase, a trained thinker can direct his or her thinking and use it in a deliberate manner to produce an intended result.

To a trained and skilled thinker, thinking is a practical tool that can be used at will. This ability to use ‘thinking as a skill’ is the sort of thinking ability that is required to get things DONE.